APRIL 1995

Structural Details to Increase
Ductility of Connections
By: Omer W. Blodgett, P.E.
Senior Design Consultant
The Lincoln Electric Company


Materials used in steel structures are increasingly becoming thicker and heavier. A greater
chance of cracking during welding of beams
to columns, for example, has resulted due to
increased thickness of material. With weld
shrinkage restrained in the thickness, width,
and length, triaxial stresses develop that may
inhibit the ability of steel to exhibit ductility.
This paper will attempt to explain why these
cracks may occur, and what can be done to
prevent them, by expanding on information
presented in the AISC Supplement No. 1
(LRFD) or Chapter J 9th Ed. AISC Manual.



I learned about the stress-strain curve (Figure
1) while taking "Strength of Materials" along
with laboratory work at the University of Minnesota. It took me a long time before I realized that this applied only to simple tensile
specimens in the laboratory.
During World War II while I was working in a
shipyard, a docked, all-welded tanker, the
Schenectady, suddenly broke in two. At the
time, we had no answer as to what could have
caused such a catastrophic failure. We passed
it off as perhaps a poor grade of steel or poor
workmanship, and kept on welding our ships.
A short time later, we received a bulletin from
The Lincoln Electric Company in which it was
stated that ductility values come from simple
tensile specimens which are free to neck down.
The bulletin pointed out that if the same plate
had many transverse stiffeners welded to it,
the ability to neck down would be greatly restricted, and the plate would fail with less apparent ductility.





£ strain in/in
Figure 1



In Figure 2, Mohr's Circle of Stress has been
drawn, showing a tensile stress of 10 ksi up to
the ultimate of 70 ksi (numbered from 1 to 7).

For convenience.L = W q / 10 ia : : t I I I I 2 3 /4 5 tensile stress (ksi) 6 7 Figure 2 Steel Tips April 1995 I 3 70 4so-•. with the specimen slipping along millions of 45 ° slip planes.•. that is. brittle failure. I f ' •' f L-W I I i v:. the critical tensile stress is reached.. the horizontal axis represents the tensile stress (o). I • ":1 .•th ·• .. Exceeding the critical shear stress causes slip or ductile failure. but exceeding this value causes immediate fail- criticat shear ? Z•c /stress •r o 7 tensile stress (ksi) Figure 2 40 I I --30 . Above the critical shear value. it is possible to read off the maximum shear stress for a given tensile stress. ·. •.'• © I 0 4sot. the corresponding shem• stress is at its critical value (•:CR)' This means the critical shear (•:CR) is equal to one half of the usual yield strength of the material in a simple tensile test.. - '• 1•. plastic deformation takes place.. This is the basic figure used by Professor Gensamer.<'• 10 t •¢- •. and the vertical axis represents the shear stress (-[). From this line. . . Gensamer introduced the concept of graphically illustrating the maximum shear-stress theory of failure.. representing a simple tensile specimen.stress is one half of the applied tensile stress. This slope is not dependent upon the type or strength of steel used. In Figure (4). the resulting shear.•.-. as shown in Figure 3. i ® f I necked down tensilo specimen Ductility of Steel Figure 5 . The critical tensile stress would be the ultimate tensile strength.56 ° slope. Notice that these points form a straight line. I crlticat shear stress v. Finally. 50 60 Shear Tensile Relationship for a Simple Tensile Specimen Figure 4 ure with little energy absorbed.'• 30' I '•=1/2o 20' I •-.•.•"• . When this specimen reaches theyield strength (ay). In a simple tensile specimen. .- 2'0 30 40 applied tensile stress (ksi) . • n i " / •. there is some work hardening of the material. This means moving up along a line having a 26. and failure occurs. ! •i . each point of shear (illustrated as a solid dot) is moved horizontally until it lies directly above the corresponding tensile stress (depicted as an open dot).The corresponding maximum shear stress is at the top of each circle. During this time.

G$rGt. _ .n E Tn/in Figure 6 . region (a) is all elastic strain. as shown in Figure 5b and 5c. then a permanent slip occurs on planes at 45 °. All of this can be seen in the stress-strain curve of Figure 6.02 . the tensile stress finally exceeds the critical normal stress (tensile strength) and the member fails.11 ' .alis .t2 •JZ •3 (I-3) '[' •'3 C2-3} fram •t-3 I fram 'rz-3 wiU tend to reduce the residual stres.rectlon of I I •' : .• Sl)•g.G4 . then we can check the ductility of other loaded members or details. This results in elastic strain and is recoverable when the stress is removed.In Figure 5a.09 Total $tra. • t = zen= e 3Of i3(l-i) 4t I . Notice that when the stress (%) reaches its critical value for failure (70 ksi in this example).I . the resulting shear stress exceeds its critical value-tcR=l/2ov .10 .03 . aircte 2-3 • I Ptastic mYJvement I • makes sp4K:imen thinner r ° w e O .¢ strain ]n d. (1-2).Thismqvernent •c. if continued.e 1-3 Ptqstic movement' -. . so no plastic strain takes place.OS . Let us see if we can find out why this test specimen is ductile. The ductility of a simple tensile specimen occurs because there are two shear stresse (%-3) and ('•2-3) resulting from the applied tensile stress (o3).= 20 lo! --I' I-' . more importantly. Notice also in Figure 5a that a shear occurs which has a maximum value of •:--1/20 on a plane at 45°. the member is subjected to a tensile stress (o) under the yield strength (ay).(}6 . The resulting shear stress (•) is under the critical value -OcR=l/2 ay. with the axis of the applied tensile stress. as shown in Figure 7a and 7b. Point (d) is tensile I . If the applied stress (o) is increased to a value of (0¥). There are two shear stresses because there are two circles: circle (1-3) and circle (2-3).i.• ((T3) Figure 7B Steel April 1995 3 . will cause the specimen to neck down (Figure 5d). it exceeds the critical value by a considerable amount. with more and more necking down. The ductility of the simple tensile stress specimen occurs because there is a shear stress component from the particular load condition and.6aT• •/' m4ke. and hence no shear stress. In the stress-strain curve of Figure 6. The third circle. since it is a point. g w 'ri'3 el %! 0 ' 2 •0'3 r--TT7--- =zer tension .3)ioirlthe dir•ion Of (•3 Z-3) This movement •'a(z.oi i . Region (a) below the yield strength covers the elastic strain portion. As the cross-sectional area continues to become smaller.n the direction af 0'3 I I tatar ptost. has no radius.107 . the two shear stresses have already exceeded their critical value of 20 ksi. In region (c) the resulting shear stress exceeds the critical value and plastic strain takes place Figure 7A . Region (c) covers the plastic strain portion with the member necking down.Q6 . This is plastic strain and.

0020 . we obtain the plastic strain.01020 .00485 .2-3 above the critical 20 ksi will cause plastic strain.00067 . Longitudinal stress is tensile along the center line of the flange where the weld access hole terminates.00117 .Any value of shear for 1. Total elastic plus plastic strain is listed in Column 3.20229 Table 1 4 Steel Tips April 1995 Ep •roG¥. calculated from s = °/E.1..00033 . : 10 20 I I .00086 .0023 .02985 . The butt joint in the flange has a residual stress longitudinal to the length of the flange (o3).00033 .08014 .- crlticot shear • •\• I RESIDUAL S T R E S S E S ISOLATED Figure 9 illustrates that two important residual stresses exist in the weld's termination zone.e weld ° 4o . or tensile strength.00100 . the two shear stresses are above the critical value and plastic strain or movement will have taken place. is listed in Column 2. see Figure 8.00067 .00236 .08234 .03185 .00050 . It can be compared to tightening a steel • ' ! lr'cr_.'•'} { • s toad tine I I represents O 'I . and is caused by two different plastic strains E3(1. 3 and 1. If the specimen is pulled to failure. The elastic strain.00315 .0022 . Notice that the total plastic strain consists of two values: C3(1.0017 . Table 1 lists the data from a typical stress-strain curve for structural steel. which will tend to reduce residual stresses caused by welding.00133 . Plastic behavior takes place from 03 = *• 40 ksi up to 70 ksi.3) and £3(2-3)' The movement •3 acts in the direction of the 40.3) and £3(2-3)' Since E3(1. By this time.00117 . This member should behave in a ductile manner. shown in Column 4.* 30 I 40 I I 50 60 I 70 normqt stress 0'3 Figure 8 I 2 3 4 weld (access hole normal elastic total plastic stress strain strain strain 0 3 £e •T 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 .20000 •_3 Figure 9 . as well as a stress transverse to the flange (%).00133 . t.£3(2-3)' we then have: s3 = 2s3¢.01200 .0015 .00100 .00083 . o3 will reach its critical value.3) ' .00083 . stress o3 and would tend to reduce any residual stress. t. Notice in Figure 7a that both circle (1-3) and circle (2-3) cause plastic strain $3(1-3) and £3(2-3)' Therefore (o3) will be: •3 = E3(1-3) + s3(2-3).0018 .00050 .3). By subtracting the elastic strain from the corresponding total rain.

EXAMPLE #1 80 Consider the unrestrained section.. going through zero. beyond the adjacent plate. _ u : criti•t - : 10 2O 30 &O SO 60 70 Figure shear st•s. Although the unit strains are the same in this case. ·ut . shown in Figure 12. these shear stresses are equal to one half of the applied tensile stress (o3).sh•_ Str•_• -•- -•. and then compression. These two sheartensile lines are drawn in the lower portion of the figure.3) nor (T•. 2 f . and the critical shear value will be reached at a much lower tensile stress or load value. .. so that it terminates in a zone where the transverse residual stress (0•) is compressive (see Figure 11). stress in the (02) direction may have an appreciable value. 0/ . and the greatest value of shear (•. Since the web at the edge of the weld access hole offers some restraint against movement in the through thickness direction of the flange plate. 'F - --(k•i) . Neither (T2. When there is no applied stress (o•) in the through thickness direction or (o2) across the width. which would indicate good ductility. All of the circles will be small.tiCOt . The transverse stress (Ol) is tensile in the weld zone. One line represents necklng down through the thickness. greatly reducing the chance of a transverse crack in the flange at the termination of the weld access hole. including a portion of the adjacent plate.2. In this case. .--"2d'k.30 high as shown on Mohr's Circle of Stress. as recommended by AISC Specification.. as the right hand of Figure 10 illustrates. .3) will probably ever reach the critical shear stress value. - 11 Apri11995 5 . Although there are two lines. these values are zero. This will produce more ductility in the (o3) direction. as shown in Figure 10.: - Figure I cr. and the other represents necking down across the width. then a more favorable stress condition will result in greater ductility in the (03) direction. This will produce the largest of Mohr's circles. the strain acting across the width would result in greater overall movement or elongation over the length of the specimen. RESIDUAL STRESSES APPLIED These residual stresses may be applied to a weld detail having a narrow weld access hole. I '•'• . If the weld access hole can be made wider. similar to a simple tensile specimen. ? -.. there is a difference between the two. This hole terminates at a point where (0•) and (03) are in tension. . Ninth Edition. . . . 10 cable lengthwise in the center in tension. This transverse stress (o•) is also similar to tightening a steel cable.3) will be 'o. and plastic strain or ductility will not occur. shear stress (-c•.3) and ('•-3)' In both cases. t' 2 . with compression spread out on both sides.

.76° and the resulting shear value is •: -. . .. . ec•' ' 30 40 SO tensite stress (ksi) Figure 12 Steel I v 30. .. The upper line indicating good plastic yielding. . The two shear values (%-3) and ('¢2-3) produce two sheartensile lines. . The lower line acting across the width does not produce enough shear to exceed the critical value. however.12 unit strO)n in/in J ) . •!• 20 30 40 tensite stress (ksD Figure 13 5• GO 70 . . To get a better picture of this behavior.23 03.05 .OG . .03 ..• sa ? o 41t• $0 I I I I .09 JO .qr'cr:2O ks. . . . hence no plastic yielding.01 . . 10' 6 40¸ I April 1995 •. (here L=W/4). •l. ' .!1 . whether it be weld metal or base metal it cannot exhibit the ductility of a I J_ necking down across width lrZ. al 40' • · 10 20 '•. acts only through the thickness and the overall movement would be less than the example on the right. . .2Q Figure 14 E X A M P L E # 2 There has been some discussion about the weld connecting the beam flange to the column flange as being brittle. . the stress-strain curve shown in Figure 14 has been created for the two details.02 . •i.-.: :r TO I t . .b 60 70 2o H t i • shear stress .04 . the angle of maximum shear stress lies along an angle of o . ..3 necking dcTw• thru thickness · necking • neckb•J down thru tl•cknesS · 2 ocross wk• ] i. . the material at point (A).07 •14 . .14 .I . '•. 10 / 10 • • ( • Y _ •'. . . Referring to Figure 15. . . . .lis Jll J? J!) . . .In the case of the restrained section shown in Figure 13.

Ductility can only take place if the material can slip in shear along numerous slip planes. There must be sufficient unrestrained length of the member to permit "necking down. This shear stress must exceed its critical value by a reasonable amount. There is no restraint across the width of the flange or through its thickness. 2. The stress will simply build up to the ultimate tensile strength with little or no plastic energy absorbed. The plastic shear strain resulting from this shear stress must act in the direction which will relieve the particular stress which can cause cracking.[(•1) 1 •2= • (-•%+%-•o•) 1 s. 3. Figure 16 shows the three equations for strain given in most strength of material texts.= -• (-•%-•%+o•) or it can be shown that E [•E3+•2+(1-•)•. (•1 O3 Figure 15 shows two regions in question: 1 •3 = "E (O3-•. There must be a shear stress (•) component resulting from the given load condition. Point (A) at the weld joining the beam flange to the face of the column flange. Four conditions are required for ductility: 1. The more it exceeds this value.•] (1+[•) (1-21Z) Figure 16 I steel Tips April 1995 7 ." If conditions (1) and (2) are not met. there will be no ductility and no yield point.simple tension test. the greater will be the resulting ductility. We call this condition a brittle failure. shown O2 4.] o•= (l+tz) (1-21z) E [•3+(1-!Z)•2+[Lt•] 02= (1+•) (1-2•) 03= Figure 15 E [(1-tZ)•3+•2+p.[%-[[. Here there is restraint against strain (movement) across the width of the beam flange (•) as well as through the thickness of the beam flange (s2)Point (B) is along the length of the beam flange away from the connecting weld.

001 £3=+.001)+. Figure 19 shows a predicated stress-strain curve indicating ample ductility. The ratio of shear to tensile stress is 0.5 ksi.° in the flange. • + 02=0 o3=30ksi a i .)£3+$S:+!.7(.- r • I1' IIr .7(-.0003)+.te. Figure 17 is an element of the beam flange from Figure 15 point (B). • .3 for steel the following strains are found for a simple tensile specimen when stressed to o3=30ksi. When this critical shear stress is reached.3) (1-. plastic straining or movement takes place and ductile behavior will result up to the ultimate tensile strength. Notice at a yield point of 55 ksi.. J (but now highly restrained with little strain) From the given equations.O003)]=Zero o2=% =Zero E [(1-p.001 s2 =-.001 ) +. • v.-•.0 ksi °3:.0003)]=30.3) are the radii of these two circles or 35 ksi. · ! ! ! L.•=70 : Figure 17 in upper box. The larger solid line circle is for a stress of 70ksi or ultimate tensile stress. Figure 20 shows an element from Point (A) (Figure 15) at the junction of the beam and column flange.3) (1-.3(-.] °3= (1 +It) (1-21Z) 30000 [.5. shown in lower box.-•-. Figure 18 plots this as line (B). For our use.(1.(1 +.' s• =-..3(-. The resulting maximum shear stresses (%-3) and (-c2. I • . these have been converted into corresponding equations for stress.. Suppose we assume: e3 = +. There is no restraint (%+o2=0) against the 30 ksi longitudinal stress 8 Steel Tips April 1995 02 = Zero o3 = 30 ksi This is plotted as Mohr's circle of stress in a dotted circle.3=35 0. . we find the following stresses: .001 (as before) •2 = Zero Zero E1 = '•.. .3(-. here 70 ksi.3(+..6) [. the critical shear value is 1/2 of this or 27.0003 •. £3 = +. By using Poisson's ratio of iz=0..O003)+.6) ac1. Whether we consider weld metal or the material in the column or beam makes little difference because this region is highly restrained.0003 ol=O Using these strains in the three formulas for resisting stresses we find: E [tz%+•ze2+(1-•)e l] %= (1 +lz) (1-2tz) o• = Zero 30000 o. • : .

tensile strength of 60 ksi and a yield strength of 40 ksi.1 .0 ksi (7 2 : 17. and it will behave as a brittle material..25 .38 ksi strength = 70.5 ksi).30 · 27. this condition is plotted as line (A). therefore. lower ductile steel.3 = 20 ksi The ratio of shear to tensile stress is 0. The maximum stresses are: -c•. 40 50 55 60 70 Figure 18 % = 17. However. tll ID I0 10 20 30 • iv .•J. Figure 19 shows a predicated stress-strain curve going upward as a straight line (elastic) until the ultimate tensile stress is reached in a brittle manner with no energy absorbed plastically.0 ksi (73 = 40.31 ksi ) Increase to ( = 30. 3 = 1:2. Notice in the case of no restraint (B) that the lower strength material will result in more ductility.he m 20 fJ• ". tensile strength of 70 ksi and a yield strength of 55 ksi. The lower figure is for a higher strength.'•'•'•. The top figure is for lower strength. in the real world where there is 80 70 60 50 (/3 (/3 40 30 20 10 . = 30.35 strain in/in Figure 19 Steel Tips April 1995 9 .5 critical shear stress 'c=1/2 o • b o .286.15 .2 . In Figure 18. Would it help if the strength and ductility of the weld metal or base metal were changed? See Figure 21.y Y•'t. . Notice it never exceeds the value of the critical shear stress (27. there will be no plastic strain or movement.0 ksi The lower portion of the sheet is a plot of Mohr's circle of stress. i ..3 .31 ksi • ultimate tensile I. more ductile steel.05 .

. (1+•) (1-2•) 30.6) or 70.(1+.001)+Zero+Zero]=17.3) (1-. the lower strength material does not provide any help against cracking.3(+.001 l I (J1 (71= '• 30 .5 ksi O'J E [g£3+g•2+(1-•L)•.38 ksi (1. . 27.001)+Zero+Zero]= 40.00 ksi °1.=1/2 o¥=27.6) 20 30 40 .[(1-.3=20 /./"- ' " Figure 20 10 Steel Tips April 1995 • O 3 = 7 0 The way in which a designer selects structural details under particular load conditions greatly influences whether the condition provides enough shear stress component so that the critical shear value may be exceeded first.• 03 i i i i · .5. 20 (/) (/) Assuming we have good workmanship with no defects or stress raisers.3)(1-.t v restraint (A).] (1+•) (1-2•) ID U'J • •' 10 30. This will result in a ductile detail and minimize the' chances of cracking. producing sufficient plastic movement before the critical normal stress value is exceeded. the real success of this connection will depend upon getting the adja- '• 10 ID · 10 20 30 40 = i . Neither material will provide any ductility. tensile stress (o) ksi o2=0•=17. i ! 50 55 60 70 Figure 21 E [(1-ILL)E3+ - cent beam to plastically deflect before this critical section cracks. 30 Steel I TS=60 ksi YP=40 ksi I I. It might be argued thatthe higher strength material (lower figure) would be stronger. It still will perform in a brittle manner if over stressed.3)(.' E3=+.000 °3= . 50 60 70 tensile stress (o) ksi 0'2 Steel TS=70 ksi YP=55 ksi l ! i i .31 ksi or 30.31 ksi O 3 = . • 20 1.00 ksi CONCLUSION 1• 1.000 [. .

Estuar and Tall. Parker. "Residual Stresses in Thick Welded Plates. Bulletin D417. F. April 1978. Chapter 11. Blodgett..R. 1957..'' Strength of Materials. Earl R. "Factors Affecting Residual Stresses in Welds.. Omer W. The James F. Brittle Behavior of Engineering Structures. Bjorhovde. Inc. August 1972. Gayles and Willis. Brozzetti. "Experimental Investigation of Welded Built-Up Columns.I REFERENCES AISC Supplement No.. McGraw-Hill Book Co. August 1940. John Wiley and Sons. Fabrication & Erection of Structural Steel for Buildings." AWS Welding Journal. 2. To the Specification for the Design. "Plastic Strain--Combined Loading. January 1. Weight of Weld Metal. 1957. April 1963. 1941. Alpsten and Tall. Shanley. "Strength of Metals Under Combined Stresses. Steel Tips April 1995 11 ." AWS Welding Journal. Maxwell. Gensamer." American Society of Metals. 1989. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation." AWS Welding Journal.

fabrication details and delivery ScheduleS. Inc. Buchen Corporation Martin Iron Works. The Herrick Corporation Oregon Steel Mills The l°cai strUctural Steel industry (aboVe spOnsors)StUdS ready to aSSist YOu in determining the most economical solution for your products. Lee & Daniel Southland Iron Works Bethlehem Steel Corporation McLean Steel.M. Nelson Stud Welding Co. G. Reno Iron Works' Bannister Steel. 12 Steel Tips April 1995 . Inc. Our assistance can range from budget prices and estimated tonnage to cost comparisons. Robertson Co. Hogan Mfg.. Inc. Inc. Iron Works Co. H.STRUCTURALSTEELEDUCATIONAL COUNCIL 470 Fernwood Drive Moraga. Baresel Corp. Verco Manufacturing. Inc. Butler Manufacturing Co. MidWest Steel Erection Vulcraft Sales Corp. CA 94556 (510) 631-9570 Q SPONSORS Adams & Smith Hoertig Iron Works PDM Strocal.H. Inc.A. • Funding for this publication provided by the California Iron Workers Administrative Trust. Inc.. Allied Steel Co. Junior Steel Co. Stockton Steel C.